Arians bemoans brief lulls in Cardinals' losses
TEMPE - Arizona coach Bruce Arians likes the way his Cardinals are playing - almost all the time.
"These guys prepare as well as any team I've ever been around," Arians said after practice on Wednesday. "The thing that we need to learn to do is finish. We finish some games and there are a few minutes in every game that we have a lull that we have to correct."
The Cardinals, he said, need to "play hard for 60 minutes. We do about 55-56 and those other four are hurting us."
Arizona (4-2) gets an extra day of practice this week because the Cardinals don't play until Monday night, at home against Baltimore (1-5).
Arians can point to those brief lapses in the team's two losses, most recently a 25-13 defeat at Pittsburgh on Sunday. In spite of all their mistakes and other problems, the Cardinals had the ball late with a chance to take the lead in both games.
"It speaks volumes about our football team," Arians said. "With all the things that happened in both ball games, we had a chance to win it with the ball in our hands. You can't ask for more than that."
Well, he could ask for his team to follow through and actually take the lead.
Against the Steelers, Arizona had the ball at the Pittsburgh 20-yard line with 2:25 to play, trailing 18-13.
But, with Larry Fitzgerald open at about the 10-yard line, Carson Palmer instead threw long to John Brown and was intercepted by safety Mike Mitchell. Palmer said after the game that he didn't see Mitchell lurking in the end zone.
Palmer was through talking about that play on Wednesday. He said he deals with such things by "forgetting about it."
Arians was asked how he handles the situation.
He said he asks, "Why the hell did you throw it to him (Brown)?"
"He (Palmer) is a veteran. He told me why he did it," the coach said, "and you move on."
Plenty of other plays contributed to the loss.
Brown had a career-best day, catching 10 passes for 185 yards, but he fumbled the ball away on a vicious hit by Pittsburgh's James Harrison. Brown said he jumped on the ball, but he was outnumbered and it was taken away at the bottom of the ensuing pile.
"In four-on-one, he's not going to have it very long," Arians said. "especially when his helmet's off."
The Arizona defense had its lulls, too, after third-string quarterback Landry Jones entered the game for the Steelers.
"The energy level wasn't the same," defensive end Calais Campbell said. "That's something we have to fix."
Jones, who had never thrown an NFL pass, threw two for touchdowns, of 8 and 88 yards to Martavis Bryant, the latter clinching the game after Mitchell's interception.
The Cardinals have plenty of veteran leaders and the coaching staff is counting on them to show the younger players how to get over a bad loss and win under the bright lights of Monday night.
"It's very important because the way we've been losing it's just all little things, little mental mistakes," running back Chris Johnson said. "No one can make a team believe that those are the reasons that we're losing except for the veterans. We've got to preach that to the younger guys. Everybody's got to be on the same page and know that sometimes the little things are the biggest mistakes."
Arians and Palmer lauded the team's Wednesday practice. It's the only time all season Arizona can have two practices in pads during the week.
"We practice fantastic when we have football gear on," Arians said. "It was a great start to the week."
Notes: The Cardinals didn't have to report injuries because they don't play until Monday, so Arians didn't give an update on the condition of tight end Darren Fells, who hurt a shoulder against Pittsburgh. The injury leaves Arizona with two tight ends - Jermaine Gresham and Troy Niklas. ... Arizona made some practice squad changes. The team signed cornerback Carrington Byndom and defensive tackle Olsen Pierre. The Cardinals released defensive end Lawrence Okoye. The other vacancy was created when cornerback Leon McFadden was signed to the New York Giants' active squad.